Three slayings from Sunday night into early yesterday raised the city homicide tally to 296, two more than the total at this time last year, according to police data.

Despite the small increase in homicides, FBI statistics released yesterday showed that violent crime overall in the city was down 6 percent in the first six months of this year compared to last year.

The rash of homicides began about 8:40 p.m. Sunday when John Day, 39, was shot in his head and chest on Locust Street near 54th in West Philadelphia. A second shooting victim, a 33-year-old unidentified man, was found a block away at Irving Street near 54th, police said. Both men are believed to have been shot by the same person, police said.

Day, of Emerald Street near Orleans, was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and pronounced dead at 10:15 p.m., police said. The unidentified second victim was in stable condition yesterday.

In another double shooting, about 10:30 p.m., on Jackson Street near 25th, South Philadelphia, Dimitry Bryant, 26, was shot in the chest and an unidentified 25-year-old man was shot in his arms and knees during a robbery, police said.

Both were taken to HUP, where Bryant, of Bambrey Terrace near 27th Street, was pronounced dead at 10:50 p.m., police said. The second victim was in stable condition at the same hospital.

The third shooting happened on 6th Street near Diamond, North Philly, about 3:45 a.m. yesterday, police said.

The victim, whose identity was not released, was shot once in the chest during a robbery and pronounced dead at 4:11 a.m. at Temple University Hospital, police said.

There were 24 more homicides at this time in 2008, according to police statistics.

Overall, the violent crime drop reflects a national trend of a 6.2 percent decrease in cities of more than 100,000, according to the FBI's Semiannual Uniform Crime Report.

Forcible rape dropped from 451 cases to 449. Robbery and aggravated assault decreased by less than 1 percent.